Is Sweet Potato Good for Diabetes?

Can people with diabetes or who are on the verge of getting diabetes eat sweet potatoes?

According to research done in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, sweet potatoes have a low glucose index (GI). This means that glucose is slowly released into the bloodstream. Low-glycemic foods are good for the pancreas because they keep it from working too hard. [1] They also make you feel full for longer.

Studies also show that sweet potatoes can help control blood sugar levels because they can raise the amount of adiponectin in the blood. [2] Adiponectin is a protein hormone that is made by fat cells. It helps control how insulin is used in the body.

Even though these results are interesting, it is still best to eat sweet potatoes in moderation. It’s important to remember that sweet potatoes are naturally sweet, and their sugar content can vary based on the type. For example, a 100-gram serving of American sweet potato, which is grown mostly for its sweetness, has 6.5 grams of sugar. [3]

If you have diabetes or problems with insulin resistance, you should talk to your doctor to find out if sweet potatoes are safe for you to eat.

What is Glycemic Index and How is it Related to Diabetes [3]

The Glycemic Index, or GI, is a way to figure out how foods with carbs affect our blood sugar levels. GI is different from previous methods, which only looked at the total amount of carbohydrates in foods. Instead, it looks at how these foods affect blood sugar. It compares how much a food item boosts blood glucose to how much pure glucose does.

Different study methods are used to figure out a food’s GI value. Most of the time, the number is found by comparing how a food affects blood glucose levels in healthy study participants with how pure glucose affects blood glucose levels. There are three different kinds of GI values:

Low GI: 1 to 55
Medium GI: between 56 and 69
High GI: GI of 70 or more
But one problem with GI ratings is that they don’t take into account how much of a certain food is likely to be eaten.

How Does GI of Sweet Potato Changes with Cooking Methods and its Impact on Diabetes? [4]

When it comes to how sweet potatoes affect your blood sugar, how you cook them makes a big difference. The glycemic index (GI), which measures how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar, can change depending on how the food is cooked. Let’s look at how the GI of different cooked sweet potatoes varies:

Baked Sweet Potato have High GI [Not Good for Diabetes] [4]

In a study that looked at 14 carb-rich West Indian foods, baked sweet potatoes had a high GI of 94 [3]. This means that baked sweet potatoes can cause your blood sugar to rise quickly and significantly. People with diabetes need to be careful about what they eat when they eat baked sweet potatoes.

Boiled Sweet Potato have Low GI [Good for Diabetes] [4]

In the same study, it was found that boiled sweet potatoes have a low GI of 46 5. This is different from baked sweet potatoes, which have a high GI of 100. When you boil sweet potatoes, the glucose in them gets into your system more slowly. This makes your blood sugar more stable and in control. People with diabetes should choose boiled sweet potatoes because of this.

Roasted and Fried Sweet potatoes have a high GI [Not Good for Diabetes] [4]

The GI ratings of roasted and fried sweet potatoes were also looked at and found to be high. Sweet yam was one of the roasted potatoes that had a GI of 82. In the same way, frying sweet potatoes can also make them have a high GI, which means that their blood sugar levels rise quickly.

The results of the study show that the way sweet potatoes are cooked, such as by boiling, roasting, baking, or frying, does have an effect on their GI.

GI Comparison of Raw, Steamed, Baked, Microwaved and Dehydrated Sweet Potato and its Impact on Diabetes

Cooking MethodFlesh (GI)Skin (GI)
Raw Sweet Potato3219
Steamed Sweet Potato6330
Baked Sweet Potato6434
Microwaved Sweet Potato66N.D.
Dehydrated Sweet Potato41N.D.
Table 1: The table shows sweet potato flesh and skin GI values following different cooking methods. GI shows how fast a food elevates blood sugar. Diabetes-related interpretation of the table

Based on table 1, it can be concluded that raw, steamed and baked sweet potato with skin have low GI and can be a good candidate for diabetes. Similarly, Diabetic person should be ok able to eat raw and dehydrated sweet potato without skin. [4]

Comparision of Sweet potato Without Skin and With Skin for Diabetes

Based on results from table 1, all types of sweet potato (raw, steamed, and baked) have lower GI for with skin compared to without skin sweet potato. This result indicates that it is better to eat sweet potato with skin. [4]

Should You Eat Sweet Potato with or Without Skin if You are Diabetic?

Based on Table 1, all types of sweet potatoes tested (raw, cooked, and baked) have lower glycemic index (GI) values when they are eaten with the skin than when they are eaten without the skin. This result shows that it’s good to eat the skin along with the sweet potato. By eating sweet potatoes with their skins, people may have less of an effect on their blood sugar levels, which could lead to better glucose control. [4]

Scientific Study on Effect of Eating Sweet Potato in Diabetic

Study on Rats

In 2012, scientists looked how hyperglycemic rats’ blood sugar levels changed after they ate sweet potato starch with a low glycemic index (GI) compared to sweet potato starch with a high GI. The study lasted for 4 weeks, and at the end, the rats’ blood sugar levels were better after they ate low-GI sweet potato starch than after they ate high-GI potato starch. Also, the results showed that a diet high in sweet potato starch could make insulin-resistant rats more sensitive to insulin. Changes in adipocytokine levels, proinflammatory cytokines, and insulin signaling are all possible reasons for this change in insulin sensitivity. These results help us learn more about how sweet potato starch helps control blood sugar after a meal and improves insulin sensitivity in people with high blood sugar or insulin resistance. [5]

Study on Human

In a study done in Austria and Italy, 60 people were given a 4g extract of caiapo, which is a type of white sweet potato. After three months, many of the subjects said that their blood sugar levels had dropped significantly, on average by 15 points. [3, 4]

When the test subjects took 2 grams of the extract, it did not help them get better. Those who ate at least 4 grams of the extract every day, on the other hand, saw their fasting blood sugar levels drop by at least 13 percent. Also, the level of cholesterol dropped by 30% and the level of LDL cholesterol dropped by 13%. [3]

Different Types of Sweet Potato and their Response to Diabetes

Purple Sweet Potatoes

Purple sweet potatoes are not only beautiful to look at because of their bright purple color, but they are also very healthy. These potatoes have a lot of important nutrients like fiber, vitamins (like A and C), and minerals like potassium.

In the study, the glycemic index (GI) numbers for the different kinds of purple sweet potatoes were:

  • Boiled purple sweet potatoes (BSP): GI value was 63.5.
  • Purple sweet potato noodles (SPN): GI value was 83.7.
  • Purple sweet potato noodles with a lot of resistant starch (RSPN): GI value was 58.7.

In this case, RSPN had the lowest GI at 58.7, BSP had the next lowest at 63.5, and SPN had the highest at 83.7. Even though the differences between the GI values were not statistically significant, RSPN had a lower GI than the other types of purple sweet potato, which suggests that it may be comparatively better for blood sugar levels. [6]

On average, the purple sweet potato has a glycemic score of 77. [7]

Orange Sweet Potatoes

Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes have many benefits. First, they provide nutritional fiber, which helps maintain a healthy digestive tract and regular bowel motions. Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes also include vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.

The average glycemic index for a boiled orange sweet potato is 44.[8]

Japanese Sweet Potato

Japanese sweet potatoes have a purple skin and a white or yellow inside. They taste sweeter than other kinds. There is an extract in these sweet potatoes called Caiapo, which could help people with diabetes.

A study on Caiapo showed that it is helpful for treating type 2 diabetes. The study showed that Caiapo helped patients with type 2 diabetes lower their blood glucose and cholesterol levels. It’s important to know that caiapo is only found in Japanese sweet potatoes, which are often called “white” sweet potatoes despite having a purple skin and a yellow inside. [9]

A study showed that compared to a placebo, caiapo extract was able to lower people’s fasting and two-hour blood glucose levels by a lot. Caiapo also was found to lower cholesterol. [10]

Tips and Tricks for making Sweet Potato if You have Diabetes

People with diabetes can eat sweet potatoes because they are tasty and good for them. Sweet potatoes have a lower glucose index than regular potatoes, which makes them a good choice for people with diabetes. They are also full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. But it’s important to cook sweet potatoes in ways that keep their health benefits and keep their effects on blood sugar levels to a minimum. This piece has some helpful tips on how to eat sweet potatoes in a way that is good for people with diabetes.

How to Choose Sweet Potatoes

Choose orange-fleshed varieties: Sweet potatoes with orange flesh tend to have a lower glycemic index than those with white flesh. [8]
Check if it’s still good: Choose sweet potatoes that are hard and have no soft spots or other signs of rot.
Choose potatoes that are in the middle: It’s easier to control how much you eat when you use medium-sized sweet potatoes, and they have a good balance of taste and texture.

Ways to cook food to keep its nutrients and flavor

Instead of frying sweet potatoes, bake or roast them. This keeps their nutritional value and brings out their natural sweetness. Don’t deep fry because it adds extra calories and bad fats that you don’t need.
Take advantage of steaming. Steaming is another great way to cook sweet potatoes that helps them keep their nutrients and natural flavor and gives low GI.

Pair sweet potatoes with foods that are good for people with diabetes.

Include Lean Proteins: Combining sweet potatoes with lean proteins like grilled chicken, turkey, or tilapia or salmon helps make a healthy meal that slows down the absorption of glucose and keeps blood sugar levels stable.
Add Fiber-Rich Foods: Enhance the fiber content of your sweet potato dish by incorporating non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, kale, or bell peppers. These additions make it easier to control your blood sugar and give you more vitamins and minerals.
Healthy Fats for Satiety: Including a small amount of healthy fats like olive oil or avocado can help slow down the digestion of sweet potatoes, preventing rapid spikes in blood sugar.

Mindful portion control

Serves: Use measuring cups or a food scale to measure your sweet potato amounts. This will help you control how much you eat.
Think about the Toppings: Even though toppings like butter, sour cream, and marshmallows are high in calories, they can make sweet potatoes taste better. Instead, try Greek yogurt, cinnamon, or a sprinkle of nuts, which are all healthy options.
When cooked and eaten carefully, sweet potatoes can be a tasty addition to your diet that is good for people with diabetes. By choosing the right sweet potatoes, employing healthy cooking methods, pairing them with diabetes-friendly ingredients, and practicing portion control, you can enjoy the nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes while effectively managing your blood sugar levels. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized advice on incorporating sweet potatoes into your diabetes meal plan.

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